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The March number of the Harvard Advocate--the first issue edited by the new board--features an article by John Harding and Albert Douglas on "War Opinion at Harvard." This is a modest attempt to equate the attitudes that shape Harvard's war policies rather than to determine accurately what the majority opinion would be on any specific question. It is an enlightening appendix to a poll like those recently conducted by the Crimson and Defense, and is, within the limits it sets for itself, completely acceptable.
The cleverest story in the magazine is undoubtedly Marvin Barrett's "The Party". . . it is skillfully, almost brilliantly written at times. And yet I find that my taste for clever young authors writing clever little stories has soured just a trifle. Perhaps the last few months have had a devastating effect on my sense of humor, but I don't think so. It is simply ennui, for this has happened so many times before. If we will not measure out our lives with coffee spoons, must we then do it with bad scotch?
On the basis of skill and facility alone, I can also praise John Crockett's "1929--There Is a Clock That Always Strikes." This, however, is a cloyingly wistful memory of an age that has passed, an album of Daguerreotypes of "orange blossoms" and "milkweed gloves," that reaches its supreme moment of pathos with: "The hope chest drawers are empty now." It would be naive and thoroughly undesirable to expect the Advocate to become a magazine of "social significance," and yet it is completely reasonable to expect some focussing, some more intense realization of implications in a poem of this sort. I think it almost providentially apt that Philip Horton, in a book review in this same issue of the Advocate, criticizes a number of young American poets for their "lack of authentic passion and real thought, the failure either to present the material in its full immediacy or to digest in some degree its significance."
"The Gunners," by Benjamin McCartney, is a sympathetic psychological study of what waiting in an anti-aircraft gun-pit does to men's nerves. Interest is heightened by the fact that the men are Germans and the enemy are English--an aspect of the war of nerves little talked of now. If some of the reactions seem a little stock and some of the psychology a little doubtful, nonetheless a spirit of tension is preserved throughout.
The only dull story is Duncan Longcope's "Diablo." Of more interest are poems by Timothy Claiborne and Howard Nemerov, a review of recent record releases by Holmes Welch, and a number of book reviews. In this issue the editors of the Advocate return--permanently, I hope--to the clear and very readable format used once before this year.
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